What is your morning routine?
I’ve always been a morning person, having grown up in a family of early risers. These days, I wake naturally at around 6:00am.
We have big trees outside our bedroom window which are home to dozens of birds. The cacophony of chirping and the quack from a neighboring duck are usually the first things I am aware of as I wake. Although awake, I take time to lie still and meditate before my mind kicks into gear. This addition to my morning has made mindfulness during the day’s crazier moments come much easier.
After meditating, my husband wakes and pulls open the curtains. Our bedroom is perched up, overlooking hills, trees, and mountains in the distance. The view is beautiful. I usually do a bit of writing, check my phone, and talk about schedules before the girls come bounding in. Shortly after that, it’s out of bed to start the day.
Last year I bought a stack of index cards, which I keep by my bed. Each morning and night I write my thoughts, ideas, intentions, memories, and fragments of life on a card and file it in the box. This is my shorthand journal. I reference it when I write longer pieces on my blog or need inspiration. Although painting is my primary medium, I write daily and a string of words often inspires my art.
One of my most important practices is building in moments of mindfulness throughout my day. For me, this routine is rooted in mornings. While still in bed, I think about three things: what I need to accomplish that day, what my intention is for the day, and what moments I can create that will let me appreciate and enjoy my life. I began this practice years ago while living in India, and it is one of the best things I do each day. It is so easy to feel as if our days pass in a blur of similarity. It is up to us to create small moments of different experiences to help us feel alive. Some of my early morning favorites are eating breakfast outside in the rising sun, taking a different route on my morning walk, or lighting a candle while I paint. I try to do something small every day that lifts me outside my routine, outside my schedule, and makes life slow, just for a moment.
After getting the girls dressed, fed, and off to school, I usually start my day with a quiet house and a light breakfast. This is the time I usually jump on my computer, clear out my inbox, browse Instagram, return texts, and go over my to-do list. This organizes me for the day ahead. After that, I am out the door for a walk, run or yoga. This year I bought a Fitbit and have been consistently logging at least 10,000 steps. Now I have an Apple Watch, which gives me even more metrics for tracking my activity. These tools have inspired me and totally changed my routine and attitude towards exercise. While walking, I listen to audiobooks or podcasts. Some of my favorite podcasts are OnBeing, TED Radio Hour, The Accidental Creative, Invisibilia, and Design Matters.
The final, and best, part of my morning is back at the house in my art studio. This is where I spend the bulk of my day. Right now I am in the middle of a public art project where I’m posting a painting a day on Instagram. This has been a great tool in helping me build a new body of work and connect with the incredible, creative community online.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
A few practices I’ve done for years, but as a whole, I’ve stuck with this routine since the beginning of the year.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
This year is when I got serious about including exercise and mediation into my mornings.
What time do you go to sleep?
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
I don’t use an alarm clock, I always wake naturally.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
I usually eat after getting the kids to school when the house is quiet and all mine. I typically have a bowl of broth with egg, avocado toast with sea salt, or a fresh made green juice.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
Walking or running while listening to podcasts, and yoga.
How about morning meditation?
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I try and answer pertinent emails in the morning after breakfast, or I flag everything that I need to answer that day so I can easily come back to it. I like starting the day with a clear head and a clear inbox.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
Headspace and Buddhify for meditation. Apple Watch for tracking exercise, and Apple Reminders for my to-do list.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
Before getting up I look to see if I have any missed calls or texts and take a quick look through my email.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
Connecting with my family and myself before we go on our separate ways, syncing schedules with my husband, and setting an intention for the day.
After everyone has gone, exercise and painting are my most important tasks!
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
While making breakfast, I’ll have a glass of kombucha or water with lemon.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
Everything moves slower on the weekends.
I tend to linger longer in bed, catching up on reading. My husband makes big family breakfasts on the weekends that we spend time enjoying. After breakfast, we usually take a morning bike ride, hike, or neighborhood walk together.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
I try. We have a house in Mexico where we spend a lot of time. There the routine is a bit more relaxed since the girls don’t have school.
When we’re in Mexico I usually start the day by making the kids breakfast and then grabbing a handful of nuts, some water, and taking a five mile walk on the cliffs by the ocean. There’s much more family time while we’re there, but I do always manage to paint. My art studio consists of a thatched straw mat on saltillo tile outside next to a white plaster wall and the ocean breeze. It’s hard not to feel inspired.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
Some days everything falls apart and I get off track. On those days, I try to be easy on myself.
As my studio is in my home, I can usually adjust the day to get some time alone to create. For me, painting is a meditation. If I have time for just a few minutes every day, I feel fulfilled.